Teen vaping an epidemic, experts say

New research shows a rapid increase in the use of e-cigarettes and vaping among teens, leading medical experts to declare a youth epidemic for the addictive habit.

The small cartridges are easy to conceal but the nicotine inside of them is potent. Dr. Matthew LaCasse is the Director of Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s Adolescent Addiction Recovery Center. He says the numbers are staggering.

“A third of high school seniors have vaped nicotine, one third,” he said.

But it’s not just high school seniors. Nationally, middle schoolers are vaping too almost 20% of 8th graders surveyed admitted to trying it – many of them don’t understand the lasting consequences.

“They’re electronic devices that heat up liquid – basically liquid nicotine – that’s mixed with a bunch of other chemicals that you inhale, take a big breath in, big breath out. They deliver nicotine to the system essentially every cell in the body,” he said.

Dr. LaCasse and his team treat young outpatients battling different vaping addictions at the clinic and he says it’s not just about the nicotine

“Most people are vaping nicotine but these days with the marijuana products too, kids and youth and people are vaping a ton of marijuana,” he said.

The FDA recently published a study calling teen vaping a quote “public health crisis.” According to their data, more than 2.1 million teens in the U.S. consistently use vapes.

“They make three different types, one is sort of a thin pencil one, another one is a little bit thicker it’s about the size of your thumb but a little bit longer, then there’s sort of a bigger blockier one,” Dr. LaCasse said. “So if a kid gets their hand on one of these vapes, all of a sudden they are walking around with twelve and a half packs of cigarettes worth of nicotine in their pocket.”

Dr. LaCasse said the stresses from pandemic boosted the dangerous habit but the rate of teen vaping has been steadily on the rise.

“They are becoming extremely nicotine dependent,” LaCasse “I have some kids here in clinic saying they’re going through one of those vapes every few days or maybe even every week?”

Dr. Lasse recommends parents check-in and have an open dialogue with their kids before they’re hooked.

“They are experiencing withdrawal from nicotine the same way that you would expect from a person who had been smoking for five years, ten years…”

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